It’s quite ironic that in the next two weeks the Wulfrun Hall (and bigger sister venue the Civic) will close for a refurbishment to increase capacity and generally spruce the place up, and yet up to the point of closure they are still packing in some of the best acts currently on the live circuit. Tonight is no exception, as Clutch bring their Psychic Warfare Tour to Wolves for their only Midland date (they were last here in the Civic supporting Thin Lizzy) and they do not disappoint.
Two support bands, both from Sweden, first we have Greenleaf, who are a really good rock band and quickly get the sold-out venue head-nodding. They are led by Arvid Jonsson who looks like the kinda guy who’d service your car but he’s thoroughly entertaining and first job when home is to download their back catalogue. One to see again that’s for sure.
Next is Bombus, also from Sweden and obviously a bigger band to Greenleaf as they have their own backdrop and intro music that’s nearly five minutes long! They also thank Greenleaf for opening for them. However, Bombus are full on metal, and although a four-piece they reminded me of early Motorhead, which is never a bad thing. I bought their last album from the merch guy and they have a new album due out here in February. They must be seen again but my only moan would be the mix seemed wrong as neither of the guitars could be heard that well and the twin bass-drums were pummelling and drowned out a lot of the other band members. They also had a drum solo, which I think is a first for a support band but overall they were very good.
Clutch are a band which seem to slip under the radar. I’ve mentioned them a few times to folks who look blankly and say they’ve not heard of them, and yet similar bands such as Queens of The Stone Age are filling 10 000 plus venues. However, the upside to that is we get to see Clutch in the cosy Wulfrun, we get to see Neil Fallon up close, and he gets to see the whites of our eyes, which he does as he frequently gestures to the crowd, up close and personal.
Their last album, Earthrocker, was a stunning set of hard assed rock songs and on that tour they were beyond amazing, however this year’s Psychic Warfare (which is one of my albums of the year) just takes things to the next level (if that’s even possible). They open with the first two tracks from the album, “X-ray Visions” with band introductions “on the drums Gemini, on bass guitar presenting Pisces, on Lead guitar we have Aries and and the microphone Scooooooorpio” chanted by the whole crowd, followed by “Firebirds”. From the minute they start the crowd is raving. The energy generated just seems to inspire them “so you ready for some rock’n’ roll” Neil asks and what follows is ninety minutes of in your face, in your ears rock’n’roll.
I’m still amazed just how Jean-Paul Gaster can create such a sound from such a small drum kit, complimented by the precision bass of Dan Maines and as for Tim Sult he surely must be one of the most underrated guitarists there is. The riffs he produces are incredible and he there’s no rock bullshit often seem by guitarists of gesturing and over the top solo’s, he simply stands, head down getting on with business churning our riff and riff.
Then front of stage, Neil Fallon. I can’t work out if I met him if he’d be a real gentleman or punch my eyes out, because he comes across as being very intense, totally into his craft and yet there’s a glint in his eye which suggests part mad-man, in the nicest possible way. The simple fact is you can’t take your eyes off him, he’s all over the stage, pointing, gesturing, stamping, calling you forward, the guy is pure genius. He tells us he looked Wolverhampton up on Wikipedia and we are famous for having the first traffic signal which he thinks is good, but he’s clearly never experienced the ring-road at rush hour.
The set ends with “Earthrocker”, and it sums the band up perfectly. They are true earth rockers, underrated but genius. This was one of the best gigs I’ve seen, the sheer energy between band and audience was incredible to watch and a pleasure to experience. The sad part is they have now ended their UK Tour, and when they do return next year they won’t be able to play Wolverhampton due to the aforementioned refurbishment, but wherever they do play make a note to go and see them. You never know you may just have the best time and watch one of the best live bands there is.
The Mob Goes Wild
A Quick Death in Texas
Sucker for the Witch
Book, Saddle and Go
Our Lady of Electric Light
Behold the Colossus
Son of Virginia
Unto the Breach
DC Sound Attack!
Review: Glenn Raybone
Photographs: Chris Bowley